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Will £200m pothole fund improve roads?

Campaigners say a £200m fund for pothole repairs announced in the 2014 Budget is not enough. We look at the state of the nation's roads.

Pothole and car wheel

When Chancellor George Osborne outlined the 2014 Budget he mentioned an MP who'd influenced him in his decisions.

"My Honourable Friend for Northampton North has been a consistent campaigner for resources to repair the potholes in his constituency and across the country.

"His persistence has paid off.

"I'm making £200million available which local authorities can bid for. I trust Northampton will be making an application."

£200m pothole repair fund

The MP in question is Michael Ellis, who has campaigned for extra funding to tackle potholes for many years.

He recently handed in a petition to 11 Downing St, signed by more than 1,200 of his constituents.

"I am absolutely delighted that these funds have been allocated," said Ellis.

"Of course, one could always ask for more, but this is a commitment by the Chancellor at a time when there's a lot of pressure on treasury funds."

The money will be allocated via a bidding process, and the system and timescale for this is currently under discussion.

State of the nation's roads

The state of the UK's roads has declined in recent years, partly because of a backlog of repairs and also because of severe weather.

Harsh winters are particularly hard on roads as water gets into existing cracks, expands as ice and makes them bigger, while persistent flooding weakens the road's structure.

In Scotland, it was revealed that local councils were spending more than £1,600 a day on compensation for drivers whose cars have been damaged by potholes.

And a survey by the AA in 2013 revealed that a third of drivers have damaged their vehicle by hitting a pothole in the last two years.

£10.5bn required to restore roads

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) publishes an annual report each spring on the condition of the roads in England and Wales.

The latest report, published in March 2013, it stated that it would take £10.5 billion to restore those roads to a reasonable condition.

So while transport campaigners welcomed the extra funds announced by the Chancellor in his 2014 Budget, many also expressed disappointment.

£200m 'not enough' say transport campaigners

Tony Ball is vice chairman of the Local Government Association's Economy and Transport Board.

"We are facing a 42% increase in traffic on local roads by 2040 and there is a £10.5 billion backlog of road repairs.

"The situation is getting worse each year because of a £500 million annual funding shortfall. 

"We urge government to provide a full and comprehensive package, including the resurfacing of roads, rather than funding in dribs and drabs."

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "It is disappointing that the £200million made available in the budget has to be bid for.

"This creates a bureaucratic burden and means that not all councils and drivers will see the benefits."

How to claim for pothole damage

If you have comprehensive car insurance, it is possible to claim against that for pothole damage to your vehicle.

However, this will count as an at-fault claim and affect your no-claims bonus.

So it's worth calculating the benefit of having the car repaired relatively promptly against the longer-term effect on your premiums.

But you can also claim for pothole damage from the local council or the Highways Agency.

Read our step-by-step guide to claiming for pothole damage, including information on how to report a pothole.

What do you think?

Is any money for road repairs to be welcomed or should government do more?

We want to hear from you! You can share your views on the message board below.

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Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy is a motoring and lifestyle journalist and author of The Girls' Car Handbook and The Girls' Guide to Losing your L Plates published by Simon and Schuster. She's also a regular on BBC Breakfast news, and local and national radio, commenting on motoring matters. Her pet motoring hates are potholes and high fuel prices.

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